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Meet Mohamad Alkhayat

Today we’d like to introduce you to Mohamad Alkhayat.

Hi Mohamad, so excited to have you with us today. What can you tell us about your story?
After finishing my study in art in Damascus Syria, I migrated to NYC, USA in 2001. Worked at one of the top carpet dealers in NYC (FJ Hakimian). From there, I started to get interested in interior design. Follow the interior design industry news. I noticed many interior designers that featured in interior design magazines like Elle Decor & Architecture Digest using Mother of pearl inlaid Syrian furniture in their project, some mistakenly think it’s Moroccan or Indian. Coming from family who been in high-end mother of pearl inlaid Syrian furniture manufacturing for over 60 years, I grew up knowing every little detail about Syrian furniture. During my work at FJ Hakimian, I took some interior design courses to familiarize myself with the industry, I started to become passionate about designing and wanted to take Syrian furniture to a different level by designing it to fit the American home and educate the public of its history and value.

In 2006, I started my company Alkhayat, Inc, opened showroom in Manhattan NYC, I kept same family name in Damascus, Syria. Syrian furniture regarded highly for its beauty and value around the world. It’s been subject of some of top European painters like Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema (Drawing Room, Holland Park) painted in 1887. In America, you can find Syrian Mother of pearl inlaid furniture used as an accent piece of furniture in celebrities houses like Cher, the Kardashians and more. In 2013, I moved my showroom to CA to be closer to my client’s base in LA. I was fortunate enough to work with top of America interior designers and architects, like Peter Marino Architects from NYC and Martyn Lawrence Bullard Design from West Hollywood. They commissioned me to custom design Syrian furniture for their client’s houses. Once the order confirmed, I send the design to my family workshop in Damascus where this furniture is made and then shipped to USA.

Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
With very limited resources and publicity, it’s been challenging as small business owner with a business specializes in certain kind of furniture. I have to target certain kinds of clients and designers. With very small budget to market my business and advertising in magazines. It took a lot of work and time to get where my business is now.

As you know, we’re big fans of you and your work. For our readers who might not be as familiar what can you tell them about what you do?
Mother of pearl inlaid Syrian furniture is pure handmade furniture. My mission is to modernize the design of this furniture without losing its identity, authenticity and technique, to fit modern houses so larger portion of people able to use it at their rooms. Some old antique Syrian furniture can be found in museums across The US. Arts collector Doris Duke traveled to Damascus in 1938 to select her Syrian furniture by herself for her villa in Honolulu Hawaii, her villa now turned into museum (Shangri La) where you can see her collection. I’m very proud of my heritage of art and craftsmanship. Coming from one of the oldest cities in the world that still exists until now. I stood apart from other workshops in Damascus with my own designs, bold edges and exotic look.

If you had to, what characteristic of yours would you give the most credit to?
At this time of modern life, human trying to create and make things more on commercial level. Relying on machines, no one wants to spend a lot of time working on one thing. At Alkhayat, we kept our technique the same way it’s been for hundreds of years. Using hammer and chisel to carve the wood and each piece of pearl hand-shaped to fit in its place. I feel it’s very important for my furniture to be made the same exact way at the same city where it begins hundreds of years ago, so it’s doesn’t lose its identity and authentic.

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Mohamad Alkhayat

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